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03 February 2011

The Jews of Venezuela

Much has been written on this blog about the history of the Jews throughout the Caribbean and South America. Yet another country seems to have been influenced by these Jews.

The earliest Jews to arrive in Venezuela, did so in the middle of the 1600's when groups of marranos lived in the cities of Caracas and Maracaibo. Many of these Jews however continued lived their Jewish lives in private. This began to change however in the early 1800's when

sephardic Jews from the Dutch colony of Curacao began to migrate into the city of Santa Ana de Coro. The Jewish cemetery of Coro was established by these same Jews from Curacao in 1824 and is now the oldest Jewish Cemetery in continuous service in the Americas.
Later, some families arriving from
St. Thomas, settled in other cities such as Barcelona. The family of Jacob and Benvenida Jesserun Lindo had 8 of their 9 children born there from 1847 to 1866. Another family, Abraham and Rebecca Henriques Moron lived in Barcelona from at least 1843 till 1855 when their first 8 children were born.

The Baiz family was a prominent family from Venezuela who migrated to New Jersey and established themselves in the Jewish community there. Their history was told in an earlier blog entry. The Jewish population of Venezuela slowly rose through the beginning of the 1900's till there were about 6000 Jews living their in 1950. After World War II and following the 6 Day War in 1967 the population grew dramatically. This later group of immigrants included a large number of Sephardic Jews from Morocco. With this immigration the Jewish population peaked at just under 50,000 people, mostly in Caracas.

Another indication of the impact the Jews of Venezuela have had worldwide is that the records of them can be found in The Knowles Collection-Jews of Caribbean database as well as the Jews of the Americas Database.

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